Hack on feminist site backfires gloriously

femsplain hack

Here's something hackers learned on International Women's Day: Silence women's voices, and they just get louder.

On Sunday, feminist website Femsplain experienced an attack on its servers and was down for several hours. But rather than damaging the site, news of the hack rallied supporters and highlighted the harassment and intimidation women face online.

It's exactly those issues that led Amber Gordon to start Femsplain last year. Her site was built to be a safe place for women to share their stories.

Gordon tweeted out news of the attack even before the site was back online. She said it was to bring visibility to online harassment, something she sees a lot of. She said she and her site are constantly targeted by "basically anyone who wants to silence women having opinions on the Internet."

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"I said, 'Let's bring attention to this,' and that this is what happening on the day we're supposed to celebrate women's voices."

As word ricocheted across social media, she was met with widespread support.

Science blogger Phil Plait, who has over 350,000 followers, tweeted, "I hadn't heard about @femsplain until it was DDoS attacked today. Now 370,000 more know about it, too. Well played, misogynists!" (DDoS, or a Denial of Service Attack, is a way to take down a website by overwhelming it with traffic.)

Though the individuals behind the attack haven't been identified, Gordon said several people claimed responsibility with the hashtag #HappyInternationalWomensDay. Gordon and her team are working to identify the hackers.

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Femsplain, which launched in October, averages 250,000 unique users a month and recently raised about $30,000 on Kickstarter to further fund it. The site has been attacked frequently, but Gordon said this was the first time itwas brought down.

"The more attention we gain, the more people are going to find us and do damage, but also the more people that find us, are helping to support us as well," she said.

Once the site was back online, Gordon was amazed at the outpouring of support. "It felt like we had won a battle."

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